The common expression is ‘I love you.’ But instead of ‘I love you,’ it would be better to say, ‘I am love — I am the embodiment of pure love.’ Remove the I and you, and you will find that there is only love. It is as if love is imprisoned between the I and you. Remove the I and you, for they are unreal; they are self-imposed walls that don’t exist. The gulf between I and you is the ego. When the ego is removed the distance disappears and the I and you also disappear. They merge to become one — and that is love. You lend the I and you their reality. Withdraw your support and they will disappear. Then you will realise, not that ‘I love you,’ but that ‘I am that all-embracing love.' - Amma
Amma’s Ashram is a place I will never forget. The way I felt sat on the stage beside her, waiting for her to hug me was like nothing I've felt in this lifetime. I don't know whether it was her per-se or whether it was the combined energy of everyone's awe, anticipation, respect and love for her along with her presence. But the place had a life-changing effect on me.
In her presence, I felt myself welling up, wanting to cry but not knowing why I felt that way. Amma means ‘mother', and she is known around the world for her famous embrace, and is loving nicknamed “The Hugging Saint”. She is said to be a channel of the divine motherly love that mother earth has for all of us, her children.
I entered an enormous room, with thousands of seats and was hit with the beautiful floral fragrance of incense. The mantras being chanted with instruments resonated around the entire enormous room. It was so big you could hardly see the huge stage from the very back. In the room was a dining area that gave out free meals, many places to buy malls (floral garlands) to give to Amma during darshan (that is when you get the hug from Amma).
Most of the people ‘working’ there were sevas, people who were volunteering to work there as part of their Karma Yoga. Karma yoga is any work that you do with no expectation of a return for you, one that you perform simply for love.
I approached a man and got my ‘ticket’ for darshan, a letter and number that would reveal the time you could go up on stage and wait to be seen. It reminded me of the tickets you get to hold your place in line at the city council. But the atmosphere was far from that. I sat in the mass of seats watching the three enormous screens with the mantras on and listened to the singing.
As I sat down, things began to happen on the stage, people were preparing it. The mantras stopped on the screens and all 3 became televisions of Amma arriving to the great hall. She looked like a celebrity with paparazzi around her, people falling to her feet as she walked. I couldn’t understand why a reasonably normal looking Indian woman was being worshipped so fervently and wondered if it was some kind of cult.
Once she arrived in the hall the atmosphere was palpably different. The prayers and mantras on the screen were invoking the divine mother. I felt a little bit emotional but really had no idea why. This increased and I was asked if I wanted to give puja to Amma. This meant handing her the sweets she would give out as her blessing after hugging you.
I queued up for nearly an hour, being training on the exact way to place the puja in her hand (quickly, yet very gently on a specific part of her plan). I thought it was a bit strange but I went with it anyway. By the time I got to give it to her, my friends from my yoga teacher training were there with Amma being hugged. I was giving the sweets to Amma that she gave to them. I couldn’t have planned it better. This little synchronicity felt powerful.
After the puja, I queued up for my time and finally went on to the stage to wait to see Amma. Her motherly love was clear on her face as she hugged each of her devotees with the same intensity.
I sat there and thought of my own Mum. How wonderful she was. And then my heart almost burst feeling the unconditional love she felt for me. That both my parents felt for me. That anyone who has ever loved me has felt for me. In one big surge. I started to cry, overwhelmed with how much I was loved.
I got a really clear message in my mind sitting there. It spoke to me and told me "You are perfect, exactly as you are." I felt it to be true. Not "I would be perfect if I had... (fill in the gap)". Just a total completeness that was like nothing I have ever known. No more striving, in that moment I was totally complete. I was love. Pure unconditional love.
I felt so deeply connected to the universe and it's energy through the feeling of the overwhelming amount of love I felt for every single being and thing in this universe. There was no good, no bad, only love.
It was so profound, it shook my entire existence. I realised I am not my ego, wanting money, or success. I was so small, a child of the earth. It was incredibly humbling. I was so small, in comparison to the incredible forces of nature that support my life every day. On a biological level, I was overwhelmed by how much love I had for the sun, the soil which grows plants to feed me, water, fresh air and the plants that create the oxygen we need. Without these things, every other thing that exists here on our planet would die.
And yet as humble as I felt, I also felt that I was perfect, pure love. I knew deeply to the core of my being that my duty in life is to serve others. My dharma is to use all of this overwhelming amount of love in my heart to heal the hurting in this world in whatever way I can.
In this moment I realised we are not here to simply live a life accumulating things only to die and leave them behind. We are not here to waste our precious time worrying about what people think about us. We are not here to make the world worse, but to save it. One loving action at a time.
The clarity I had in all of that love, I felt like I knew my purpose. I need to put my life towards creating a better planet because I love everyone and everything I share this earth with. I saw that positivity has ripple effects. One act of kindness from you can ripple out and have many more positive impacts than you ever expected.
Then it began to get really spiritual. I started to see the bigger picture. The universal power that created the world is a power of love. The love I was was feeling was divine love, resonating through every cell in my being. Our world is one of vibrations, currents, energies, from sound waves to light, to electromagnetic currents. Everything exists in energy. Some visible, some audible, and some you can sense. I could sense nothing but love. It removed all suffering. It removed all the bad. It was a light so bright it shone through any dark part of my soul.
About half an hour after being hugged by Amma, I went to the Kali temple in the ashram. The small grove had an incredible shiny floor. It was like a mirror. I looked deeply into the black, shiny granite and began meditating. In the reflection, I could see people walking around, doing their service, going about their lives. Their reflection was realistic but the colours were less vibrant.
I realised I had spent my entire life looking at the reflection of the temple floor, never looking up to the reality, to see the true glory of the temple. The temple was love, and I had only seen diminished reflections of worldly love. Now I saw the true splendour of divine love. My heart could have burst. I felt so grateful, so complete, so safe, so held. The universe needed me to feel so loved so that I could give my life to creating a better world. It was the divine will. To love me so much that I could fix suffering in whatever way I could.
If everyone felt the unconditional overwhelming love I felt, no one would feel insecure, no one would feel lonely, no one would feel confused over their life purpose because it really is so simple. We are here to be the best we can possibly be, to have the greatest positive impact we can possibly have and to share our love with all beings.
I still don’t have the words to describe the force I am talking about, but many have been used before me (Cosmic Consciousness/ Brahman/ Ishwara/ The Divine Energy/ The Universe/ The Creator/ The Creative energy/ God /Allah/ Krishna). My understanding of this entity is different than the connotations any of those words have. Maybe it is simply Love. I felt in this moment as though ‘God’ hasn’t turned it’s back on the world, it is us who have turned our back on divine love.
We are systematically destroying the planet through our choices based on fear, greed, pain, based on our own ego, our suffering. If we could choose to act from our higher selves, from a place of love, then we can change the world. Choosing to selflessly give to others, as a mother gives to her child. To love and nurture this planet, and all who share it, as mother Earth unconditionally does for us, regardless of how savagely we treat her, or each other.
We have the power to do that. Every day we have a choice as to whether we will bring more light into this world, or whether we will bring more darkness. We have a choice as to whether we act from a place of love, peace, truth, devotion to others or hate, anger, greed, and jealousy. If we can see that we are not simply individuals, but we are part of something so much bigger, if we can just look up from the temple floor for a moment… We may be able to see more clearly.
You are a divine masterpiece with the power to illuminate the darkness of others suffering. You are unique and the world needs your special gifts to heal. You are loved, so deeply and unconditionally. You are perfect, just the way you are.
Day 4 / 365 days of personal development
Om Shanti x